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Edna Ocholi: flying the cultural flag of Gbagyi

Miss Edna Ocholi is promoting the Gbagyi cultural outfit at the 2017 African Arts & Craft Expo. Gbagyi or Gbari is the name and the language of Gbari ethnic group occupying Central Nigeria. It has a population of about 15 million people.

Edna Ocholi(r) with a friend. Photo by OSA AMADI.

People of the ethnic group speak two dialects. The Hausa Fulani and Europeans during pre-colonial Nigeria called them Gwari, but the people prefer to be known as Gbagyi.

They live in the Niger, Kaduna States and the Federal Capital Territory. They are also found in Nasarawa and Kogi States in central Nigeria Area. Gbagyi is the most populated ethnic and indigenous group in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria and their major occupation is farming.

The Gbagyi were the largest among the ethnic groups that inhabited the land proposed for development when Abuja was chosen as Nigeria’s new Federal Capital Territory. The Gbagyi were dislocated from their ancestral homes and spiritual symbols such as Zuma Rock. It was painful seeing their ancestral land referred to as “no-man’s land” though many displaced families were given housing.

Perhaps, one aspect of the potentials arts and culture has which Otunba Segun Runsewe and other advocates of “arts and culture as Nigeria’s new oil” have not considered is the physical beauty of Nigerians. The time has come for us to begin to factor into the art and culture equation, how the physical beauty of Nigerian men and women can be tapped and marketed to earn foreign exchange.


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